Given the combination of lockdown easing measures and continued uncertainty surrounding foreign travel, there is little surprise that next week’s half-term and the approaching summer break are due to see millions of British families opt for holidays in this country.
Recent research by Travelodge found four in five people are planning a ‘staycation’ break this summer in what the hotel chain estimates to be a potential £31bn boost to the economy.
The Yorkshire coast is one of the areas expected to welcome an influx of visitors and my family was among them last weekend as we set out from Sheffield for a break with our two young children (aged five and three) at the Sand Le Mere holiday village in Tunstall, near Hull. The site offers caravan, touring and lodge holidays with an indoor pool, leisure complex, adventure playgrounds and a fishing lake among its facilities. Its position allows easy access to Tunstall Beach and the nearby cliffs which are both ideal spots for walking.
While lockdown has eased, current Covid rules mean that our break was not entirely a return to normal despite the very best efforts of the friendly staff to ensure holidaymakers have an enjoyable time.
With no ordering at the bar in the entertainment complex, you had to wave a table card in the air to get the attention of staff for food and drink service, while the children’s entertainment involved them having to stay seated at their family’s table to join in with dancing and games with each other at a distance rather than near the stage together.
There was also the now-familiar requirement to wear masks while moving around all public indoor areas and repeatedly check in via the NHS Track and Trace app. Instead of being able to do things on a whim, activities like going swimming also had to be booked in at specific times to control numbers.
Having said all that, it was wonderful to be able to get away and in particular be able to take our children swimming two days in a row – especially given how quickly sessions at normal pools in Sheffield have been getting booked up weeks in advance.
Equally, even with the restrictions the fact that the bar and restaurant was open for service and other indoor activities and evening entertainment was possible also felt like a massive step in the right direction. We had travelled as a family for a few days in Filey in April where almost no facilities on the park we visited there had been open because of the restrictions in place at that stage in the pandemic.
Having had that experience (on what was also an excellent trip), it made us more appreciative of what was available and also the huge efforts of the staff to both comply with the Covid guidelines set out by the Government while also keeping their impact to a minimum.
On our way back home after three lovely days away, we stopped off at The Deep aquarium in Hull, which I would rate as one of Yorkshire’s best tourist attractions. Again it was a case of booking a specific time slot for our visit and wearing masks on the way around and in a sign of the times, the play area has been temporarily closed to make way of hand sanitising stations.
But these were minor quibbles in what otherwise felt like a very normal visit to a fun and educational place which includes penguins, turtles, jellyfish and sharks among the thousands of creatures that live there.
Should lockdown easing go fully ahead on June 21 – Indian variant permitting – soon restrictions will hopefully be a thing of the past. But even with them, having an enjoyable break is very much possible. As we set off home, I asked our children how they would rate the holiday. “50 out of 10,” they both replied.
Breaks at Sand Le Mere this June for a four-night stay in a caravan start from £230. Visit www.sand-le-mere.co.uk or call (01964) 670403.
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